Modernising parliamentary democracy

Why do we care what our politicians get paid?

Why do we care what our politicians get paid?

Since payments for MPs were introduced in the early in the 20th century, the rhetoric used to justify them has changed markedly. Initially, writes Nicholas Dickinson, any remuneration was almost always construed in terms of broadening democratic representation. Related to a landmark 1971 report, however, MPs increasingly began to be depicted as political professionals. This change in framing allowed salaries to increase, but at the cost of lasting public ambivalence.

The government’s handling of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s detainee reports reveals worrying tensions between them

The government’s handling of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s detainee reports reveals worrying tensions between them

The Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) is due to publish two reports on the UK’s treatment of detainees. Andrew Defty explains how leaks ahead of their publication are part of a concerning breakdown in the relationship between government and the committee, which has implications for the proper democratic oversight of the UK’s intelligence agencies.

How the Treasury Committee has developed since 1997

How the Treasury Committee has developed since 1997

A close analysis of the Treasury Committee’s recent history shows how it has become a successful example of a House of Commons select committee. It has developed a broad remit for scrutinising high-profile figures and institutions in the financial sector beyond the Treasury department, particularly in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, writes Saskia Rombach.

Why the Grieve amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill is not unconstitutional

Why the Grieve amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill is not unconstitutional

On Wednesday, 20 June, the House of Commons will consider again amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill intended to give Parliament a meaningful vote on the Brexit negotiations, particularly in the case of no deal being agreed. Ben Margulies considers the constitutional implications of these highly contentious proposals.

Reproducing the political class: how socialisation makes MPs more loyal to their parties

Reproducing the political class: how socialisation makes MPs more loyal to their parties

What are the drivers of party discipline in the House of Commons? Evidence from survey data suggests that the socialisation process of new MPs as they learn from colleagues is a key factor in their subsequent loyalty, writes Nicholas Dickinson.

Out from the shadows: the case for external oversight of UK Special Forces

Out from the shadows: the case for external oversight of UK Special Forces

While the UK government maintains a strict ‘no comment’ policy about the country’s special forces, allied countries, including the US, allow for parliamentary oversight of their covert military operations. Liam Walpole argues that the UK’s approach lacks democratic accountability and prevents proper evaluation of the military effectiveness of special forces. Options for reform include expanding the Intelligence and Security Committee’s remit to cover special forces.

How majoritarianism endures in the structures of the UK’s devolved institutions

How majoritarianism endures in the structures of the UK’s devolved institutions

Scotland and Wales’ devolved political institutions, elected under proportional Additional Member electoral systems, were intended to produce a more consensual political culture. However, writes Felicity Matthews, although their electoral rules have increased the proportionality of representation, the structures of the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales have meant that a more consensual approach to policy-making has been more limited than might have been expected.

Partisanship and the gender gap: support for gender quotas in Australia

Partisanship and the gender gap: support for gender quotas in Australia

The disparity in the gender gap in parliament between the Australian Labor Party and Liberal Party  has grown over time. Katrine Beauregard assesses what measures to increase the representation of women in parliament the public – and political partisans – would support.

Does it really matter if we call Australian politics ‘semi-parliamentary’?

Does it really matter if we call Australian politics ‘semi-parliamentary’?

Australia’s ‘hybrid’ executive-legislative relationship, whereby the two chambers of parliament have distinct and separate powers, has been described in numerous ways, including ‘semi-parliamentarism’. In this, the final of three pieces on the subject, Marija Taflaga argues that the terminology matters, and the term helps both politicians and political scientists clarify how the Australian system works, and understand the political incentives and behaviours it produces.

The development of semi-parliamentarism in Australia

The development of semi-parliamentarism in Australia

Steffen Ganghof has described the Australian system at both national and state levels as ‘semi-parliamentarian’ since governments do not need to maintain the confidence of the upper chambers to survive. Rodney Smith traces how Australia’s upper houses have evolved and established distinct, strengthened mechanisms of executive scrutiny.